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View Full Version : Eric Milton, Reds savior for 2006???



11BarryLarkin11
01-03-2006, 08:46 PM
Well, maybe that's overstating it a bit, but at least it got your attention. ;)

Anyway, there has been much discussion about Eric Milton and his potential for a bounceback season in 2006, so I thought I'd take a look at his performance over the past two seasons.

Let's take a look at Milton's 2005 season in comparison to his 2004 season. In 2004, Milton posted an ERA of 4.75. In 2005, Milton posted an ERA of 6.47. What accounts for this significant difference in performance?

To me, the three main determinants of successful pitching are Walk Rate, Strikeout Rate, and GB/FB ratio (or HR Rate). Successful pitching to me is about limiting baserunners (high strikeout rates and low walk rates) and limiting the damage done by those runners who manage to get on base (keep the ball in the yard). So, let's look at those three and see if we can determine what happened to Milton.

2004
BB/9: 3.36
K/9: 7.21
HR/9: 1.93

2005
BB/9: 2.52
K/9: 5.94
HR/9: 1.93

2005-2004 Difference
BB/9: -.84
K/9: -1.27
HR/9: 0.00

Milton in 2005 is a very interesting case. Comparing 2005 to 2004, Milton cut his walk rate (-.84 BB/9) and saw his strikeout rate decline (-1.27 K/9), while his HR/9 was EXACTLY the same. So, one of the determinants (Walk Rate) improved, one got worse (K Rate), and one stayed exactly the same (HR Rate).

Now, the declining strikeout rate should result in more hits, as more balls in play means more hits. But, you'd think that the increased number of batters who reached by the basehit would be offset to a certain degree by the reduced walk rate. More hits, but fewer walks, should result in a similar total number of baserunners allowed.

If we can conclude that his total baserunners allowed was very similar, why did he give up so many more runs? Why was his performance so much worse in 2005 (ERA: 6.47) than 2004 (ERA: 4.75)?

Well, simply put, he got pounded. His hit rate skyrocketed at an unexpected, illogical rate.

H/9 for Eric Milton
2004: 8.78
2005: 11.46

The question becomes, why did he give up so many more hits in 2005 than 2004?

Well, as mentioned above, with the decline in strikeouts, there are more balls put into play. With more balls put into play, there should be a corresponding increase in hits. But, while I would certainly expect more hits allowed, there shouldn't have been such a MASSIVE increase in hits allowed.

What are the possible reasons for the increase in hits allowed? Here are some possible reasons for the increase that I've come up with:

1. Park Effects: But, the ballpark change (from Citizen's to GABP) SHOULD NOT have had much of an effect, as both are extreme hitter's ballparks. In fact, it's possible that a change to GABP should have helped Milton, as Citizen's is a more offense friendly park than GABP. At the very least, it shouldn't have hurt him.

2. Team Defense: I haven't looked into it in depth, but the Reds 2005 defense was probably a bit worse than the 2004 Phillies defense, which could account for some additional hits, due to the decreased range. But, again, this shouldn't have resulted in a big difference.

3. Luck: And, finally, I suspect that the MAIN culprit is just luck. Milton was "hit lucky" in 2004 and very "hit unlucky" in 2005.

Batting Average on Balls in Play for Eric Milton
2004: .271
2005: .317

If you believe in the Voros McCracken theory, then the pitcher has no control over whether or not a ball put into play results in a hit. As such, it boils down to luck. If true, then Milton was lucky in 2004 and very unlucky in 2005.

To summarize, Milton's declining strikeout rate from 2004 to 2005 resulted in more balls being put into play. And, of those balls in play, a HIGHER percentage of them resulted in hits. He wasn't necessarily being hit harder, as his identical 2004/2005 HR rate indicates, rather more hits in general were just falling in.

The mass media lambasted this signing as terrible (due to Milton's flyball tendencies in a homer friendly ballpark) and point to his 2005 performance as evidence. However, in 2005 Milton gave up HRs at EXACTLY the same rate as in 2004, but his overall performance was much, much WORSE. Accordingly, he WAS NOT done in by his homers, as commonly believed, but rather by the illogical increase in hit rate.

Accordingly, Milton will likely have better luck in 2006, which should result in his performance regressing back towards his career mean.

As such, there is hope that Milton will be significantly better in 2006. In fact, I'd be very surprised if he isn't. Now, mind you, that doesn't mean that he'll be a GOOD pitcher, but he should return to his league average self next season. And, with the offensive talent in Cincy, consistent league average pitching is all the Reds really need. So, while he won't be the savior, he will be better in 2006.

And, a league average Milton is something devoutly to be wished.

RFS62
01-03-2006, 08:52 PM
Allow me to assist you in your in depth analysis.

He sucks.

I hope that helped.

SunDeck
01-03-2006, 08:53 PM
What are the possible reasons for the increase in hits allowed? Here are some possible reasons for the increase that I've come up with:

1. Park Effects: But, the ballpark change (from Citizen's to GABP) SHOULD NOT have had much of an effect, as both are extreme hitter's ballparks. In fact, it's possible that a change to GABP should have helped Milton. At the very least, it shouldn't have hurt him.

2. Team Defense: I haven't looked into it in depth, but the Reds 2005 defense was probably a bit worse than the 2004 Phillies defense, which could account for some additional hits, due to the decreased range. But, again, this shouldn't have resulted in a big difference.

3. Luck: And, finally, I suspect that the main culprit is just luck. Milton was "hit lucky" in 2004 and very "hit unlucky" in 2005.


4. Pitching to contact.

11BarryLarkin11
01-03-2006, 09:00 PM
4. Pitching to contact.

lol

If that's the case, then it's about as effective as I always thought that it would be.

Pitching to contact is a terrible philosophy, let's just hope that that isn't the real reason. Or, if it is, then that the Reds are smart enough to realize that it doesn't work.

westofyou
01-03-2006, 09:00 PM
Eric Milton has Bert Shepards Knee and Kevin Browns contract, he is the Reds very own Cardiff Giant.

Doc. Scott
01-03-2006, 09:06 PM
11BL11, I appreciate your attempt to explain and mitigate Mr. Milton's suckalicious performance. Now, the begged question: why did Eric's K rate decline so much?

RFS62
01-03-2006, 09:06 PM
the Reds very own Cardiff Giant.



Wow, cool. So, we've got that going for us. Which is nice.

RFS62
01-03-2006, 09:08 PM
11BL11, I appreciate your attempt to explain and mitigate Mr. Milton's suckalicious performance. Now, the begged question: why did Eric's K rate decline so much?



Yes, I agree. I didn't mean to belittle your attempt to explain his increased rate of suckage.

11BarryLarkin11
01-03-2006, 09:12 PM
11BL11, I appreciate your attempt to explain and mitigate Mr. Milton's suckalicious performance. Now, the begged question: why did Eric's K rate decline so much?

Well, that I can't explain due to my outsider status. Two thoughts leap to mind. 1) Mr. Milton's mysterious knee injury, which made him forget how to pitch downhill, or whatever bizarre explanation he proffered last season. 2) Pitching to contact.

But, the good news is that both of the aforementioned explanations are fixable. If he is healthy, then he could see his K/9 rate increase. An increase in K rate would/should result in a reduced hit rate. Fewer baserunners means fewer runs allowed.

And, if it is pitching to contact, god forbid, then Milton would/should be smart enough to realize that it doesn't work. Accordingly, he'll go back to the philosophy that enabled him to become the league average pitcher that we all know and love.

But, my money is on the knee injury. I don't think you pick up a seasoned veteran who has had "success" in the past and get him to immediately adopt a new pitching philosophy.

That's the best I can do. Fingers crossed!!

11BarryLarkin11
01-03-2006, 09:19 PM
11BL11, I appreciate your attempt to explain and mitigate Mr. Milton's suckalicious performance. Now, the begged question: why did Eric's K rate decline so much?

Ok, you stoked my curiosity. So, I took a look at his stats month by month:

Month: K/9
April: 4.63
May: 5.98
June: 5.26
July: 6.94
August: 5.48
September: 7.00

So, after half a season of struggling, Milton either abandoned the "pitch to contact" debacle or got over his mysterious knee ailment and starting striking guys out again. His increasing K/9 rate is another positive sign for 2006. If he posts a higher K/9 next season, then batting practice will actually only occur BEFORE games in 2006. ;)

SteelSD
01-03-2006, 09:21 PM
If you believe in the Voros McCracken theory, then the pitcher has no control over whether or not a ball put into play results in a hit. As such, it boils down to luck. If true, then Milton was lucky in 2004 and very unlucky in 2005.

Milton WAS significantly BABIP-lucky in 2004, but he wasn't signficantly BABIP-unlucky in 2005. MLB average BABIP hovers right around .305-.310. Given that the Reds posted one of the lowest Defensive Efficiencies in MLB in 2004, Milton got pretty much what he deserved from a BABIP perspective. There was really nothing unexpected or illogical about it.

Because he regressed to the mean, his BA Against jumped and his SLG Against hit a ridiculous .543. And we need to realize that Milton posted an atrocious .493 SLGA in 2004. For Milton to revert to league average form, he'd have to increase his K rate and then hope to get significantly BABIP-lucky again (even moreso than in 2004). But especially considering his knee issues, the former is a faint hope at best and the latter is an unreasonable expectation.

And let's also remember that while getting significantly lucky in 2004, Milton still posted a .810 OPSA. That's nowhere near league average.

M2
01-03-2006, 09:24 PM
3. Luck: And, finally, I suspect that the MAIN culprit is just luck. Milton was "hit lucky" in 2004 and very "hit unlucky" in 2005.

Batting Average on Balls in Play for Eric Milton
2004: .271
2005: .317

If only that were true.

You've got the BABIP's right, but your luck designation is off.

In 2004 the average Phillies pitcher had a .296 BABIP, making Milton the benficiary of some good luck, In 2005 the average Reds pitcher had a .323 BABIP, meaning Milton was once again a wee bit hit lucky in 2005. A better defense could help (unfortunately that hasn't been pursued), though there's only so much help you can give to a pitcher who allows a .240 ISOPW.

So Milton's hit increase was fairly logical. And the K decrease? Look no farther than a degenerative knee which prevents him from following through the way he should on his pitches.

Also, the days of Eric Milton's league average self haven't been seen since 2001. He was below average in 2002 and 2004, injured in 2003 and last year what you saw is what happens to somewhat bad pitchers as they reach age 30, they become really bad pitchers. It should be noted that in Milton's better days his ISOPW averaged about .170. This is a guy who's become a punching bag.

Nugget
01-03-2006, 09:29 PM
I think if you look at all the REDS pitchers in the second half of the season (post Guillet) they had an improvement. A lot of people here bag out both Milton and Ortiz but if you look at their stats from latter half you will find that they put up decent numbers.

M2
01-03-2006, 09:39 PM
I think if you look at all the REDS pitchers in the second half of the season (post Guillet) they had an improvement. A lot of people here bag out both Milton and Ortiz but if you look at their stats from latter half you will find that they put up decent numbers.

You know, a simple fact check could tell you otherwise.

Post All-Star Game Ortiz had a 4.50 ERA and .811 OPS against. That isn't decent though the ERA was a bit lucky (should have been higher with bad peripherals like that) and, as a result, it was only mildly poor. Milton had 5.87 ERA and .857 OPS against. That's horrid.

If you want to do the full post-Gullett autopsy I'll leave it to you to crunch the secondary numbers, but Milton had a 5.56 overall ERA and Ortiz was at 4.79.

MartyFan
01-03-2006, 09:47 PM
Allow me to assist you in your in depth analysis.

He sucks.

I hope that helped.

Okay, wait a minute, let me get this right...he sucks? Okay, got it...technical jargon and all I think I can break that one down.;)

wheels
01-03-2006, 11:20 PM
When we talk about Eric Milton, the two main stats we need to look at are his slugging and OPS against.

Both of which are horrid beyond compare.

He can't follow through anymore, and hasn't been able to do so since 2002.
The result? Big, fat straight as an arrow fastballs, and hanging curves. If he leaves anything up, he gets Glass Joe'd every single time.

I still can't believe he gave up "only" 40 homers.

westofyou
01-04-2006, 12:05 AM
I still can't believe he gave up "only" 40 homers.And 55 doubles... Harang was second with 52.

Doubles are the ones that get to the wall... hmmmmm.

RedsFan8978
01-04-2006, 12:08 AM
Why not just ignore the stupid "pitching to contact" idea? It's not like they're going to get rid of the guy. :devil:

Henry Clay
01-04-2006, 12:09 AM
One thing that confounds me about Milton is his brief success in late summer when he suddenly pitched as an effective sinkerball pitcher and induced a few double plays and kept the ball in the park. He had around 4 games scattered late in the season where he allowed only 1 or 2 runs (I'm not sure if his GB/FB ratios were the same in all games, but he was effective in the games). After a couple of good games, however, he had a horrible game. He then reverted to decency and once again rebounded to be bad for a few games until another late game (late Sept). I believe it was in late August that he had the sinkerball experience and the good results. I can remember the broadcasters raving about how he had finally figured out how to keep balls in the park. The guy just couldn't keep it together for any stretch of games. Of course, I'm not surprised. At the time, I wondered how a guy who pitched one way his whole career could just change his manner of pitching mid-season and be effective and consistent. My hope is that the mechanical and mental adjustments that led to those few good games will be reviewed on video by Milton and the pitching staff this offseason, and he will seek to implement what was effective when he reports in just a few weeks. It probably won't work, but those few games give me some hope that he can make effective adjustments if he can go back and identify what worked for him and what did not.

M2
01-04-2006, 12:17 AM
And 55 doubles... Harang was second with 52.

Doubles are the ones that get to the wall... hmmmmm.

Hey, you think this might have something to do with CF defense or something?

REDREAD
01-04-2006, 12:40 AM
If only that were true.

You've got the BABIP's right, but your luck designation is off.

In 2004 the average Phillies pitcher had a .296 BABIP, making Milton the benficiary of some good luck, In 2005 the average Reds pitcher had a .323 BABIP, meaning Milton was once again a wee bit hit lucky in 2005. A better defense could help (unfortunately that hasn't been pursued), though there's only so much help you can give to a pitcher who allows a .240 ISOPW.

.

I'm not sure that comparing a player's BABIP against his teammates is that valid. Small sample size. My guess is that the Reds team BABIP was 323 largely because they sucked. Sure, the defense didn't help, but hasn't it been proven that crappy pitchers have a higher BABIP? I thought I recalled someone posting an article to that effect. For example, Graves is going to have a higher BABIP than Mariano Rivera, due to the talent differential not due to luck.

M2
01-04-2006, 12:57 AM
I'm not sure that comparing a player's BABIP against his teammates is that valid. Small sample size. My guess is that the Reds team BABIP was 323 largely because they sucked. Sure, the defense didn't help, but hasn't it been proven that crappy pitchers have a higher BABIP? I thought I recalled someone posting an article to that effect. For example, Graves is going to have a higher BABIP than Mariano Rivera, due to the talent differential not due to luck.

That's what you compare it against. The average is set by the team's defensive efficiency. I converted it to pitching BABIP, but that's just 1.000 minus the team defensive efficiency rating.

In fact, team BABIP the only thing you can use as a standard measurement because pitchers on different teams are backed by different defenses. A better defense is going to get to more balls in play. The Reds had a lousy defense last year, but Milton came out slightly ahead of average regardless.

The point being, Milton wasn't unlucky last season (like Todd Coffey and Ryan Wagner were). He didn't give up a higher than normal BABIP. He gave up what you'd expect from a pitcher with the Reds defense behind him.

Nugget
01-04-2006, 01:24 AM
Milton did not pitch well at a lot of times last season. I don't think you need stats to prove that. However, what I was getting at that looking at the end of the season both he and Ortiz put up some decent numbers and looked (according to the descriptions) no the mound. I have seen Milton pitch with the Twins which I think was before the knee surgery and he was a good pitcher. Better than Joe Mays. I think that a poor first season has really put him in the doghouse with people here but I don't think he is that bad. He is probably the equivalent of his peers from last season and will (hopefully) put up a good performance this season.

SteelSD
01-04-2006, 01:44 AM
Milton did not pitch well at a lot of times last season. I don't think you need stats to prove that. However, what I was getting at that looking at the end of the season both he and Ortiz put up some decent numbers and looked (according to the descriptions) no the mound. I have seen Milton pitch with the Twins which I think was before the knee surgery and he was a good pitcher. Better than Joe Mays. I think that a poor first season has really put him in the doghouse with people here but I don't think he is that bad. He is probably the equivalent of his peers from last season and will (hopefully) put up a good performance this season.

I live in Twins country. I've been force-fed Eric Milton starts before. I've seen the guy look dynamite at times when he was healthy, but his best happened far too infrequently even then. Then his knee decided to become non-cooperative. Fast forward to 2004...

Eric Milton was a pitcher who put up a .493 SLG Against and a .810 OPS against in 2004 with a better defensive team while getting Hit-lucky.

Let's put that in perspective...

Eric Milton finished 92nd in OPSA among the 2005 ERA title qualifiers. There were 93 qualifiers, meaning that only Jose Lima was worse. If Eric Milton had reproduced his 2004 numbers last year (.810 OPSA), he would have moved up to slot #86.

Even worse, Milton's DIPS ERA in 2004 was 5.23. That means he got ERA-lucky in 2004. Now take that and place it on a worse defensive team. And there you have Eric Milton's 2005 season. The Reds spent 8.5 M bucks per season for a guy who we could reasonably expect to a 5.23 ERA on an average defensive team. But the Reds don't have an average defensive team. So, instead, you get Eric Milton's 2005 results.

He is teh suck. The guy is a former mediocrity gone bad. Milton had two true "peers" last season. I've already mentioned one (Lima). The second is named Ramon Ortiz.

M2
01-04-2006, 01:50 AM
Milton did not pitch well at a lot of times last season. I don't think you need stats to prove that. However, what I was getting at that looking at the end of the season both he and Ortiz put up some decent numbers and looked (according to the descriptions) no the mound. I have seen Milton pitch with the Twins which I think was before the knee surgery and he was a good pitcher. Better than Joe Mays. I think that a poor first season has really put him in the doghouse with people here but I don't think he is that bad. He is probably the equivalent of his peers from last season and will (hopefully) put up a good performance this season.

I saw Milton pitch with the Twins too. I also remember when he began to slide in 2002. It's 2006 now. Time to let go of a falling star.

Once again, he did not put up decent numbers at the end of the season. I posted the numbers for you. He even finished off with an 8.00 ERA in September. He hasn't put up a good performance in four seasons and is now in his 30s with an ever-worsening knee condition along with stuff that's been getting murdered the past two seasons. Recognize the animals in the zoo for what they are. It doesn't matter what you or I think or want or hope. Eric Milton's made it painfully clear that he is what he is and that it has no resemblance whatsoever to a good pitcher.

SirFelixCat
01-04-2006, 07:03 AM
I live in Twins country. I've been force-fed Eric Milton starts before. I've seen the guy look dynamite at times when he was healthy, but his best happened far too infrequently even then. Then his knee decided to become non-cooperative. Fast forward to 2004...

Eric Milton was a pitcher who put up a .493 SLG Against and a .810 OPS against in 2004 with a better defensive team while getting Hit-lucky.

Let's put that in perspective...

Eric Milton finished 92nd in OPSA among the 2005 ERA title qualifiers. There were 93 qualifiers, meaning that only Jose Lima was worse. If Eric Milton had reproduced his 2004 numbers last year (.810 OPSA), he would have moved up to slot #86.

Even worse, Milton's DIPS ERA in 2004 was 5.23. That means he got ERA-lucky in 2004. Now take that and place it on a worse defensive team. And there you have Eric Milton's 2005 season. The Reds spent 8.5 M bucks per season for a guy who we could reasonably expect to a 5.23 ERA on an average defensive team. But the Reds don't have an average defensive team. So, instead, you get Eric Milton's 2005 results.

He is teh suck. The guy is a former mediocrity gone bad. Milton had two true "peers" last season. I've already mentioned one (Lima). The second is named Ramon Ortiz.

Now, I know he was bad last season. Who didn't. But, man, break it down like that and OMG!!!:explode:

Dare I say this, but, um, he can't get any worse and stay in the rotation this year, right?:laugh: :help:

MartyFan
01-04-2006, 08:20 AM
One thing that confounds me about Milton is his brief success in late summer when he suddenly pitched as an effective sinkerball pitcher and induced a few double plays and kept the ball in the park. He had around 4 games scattered late in the season where he allowed only 1 or 2 runs (I'm not sure if his GB/FB ratios were the same in all games, but he was effective in the games). After a couple of good games, however, he had a horrible game. He then reverted to decency and once again rebounded to be bad for a few games until another late game (late Sept). I believe it was in late August that he had the sinkerball experience and the good results. I can remember the broadcasters raving about how he had finally figured out how to keep balls in the park. The guy just couldn't keep it together for any stretch of games. Of course, I'm not surprised. At the time, I wondered how a guy who pitched one way his whole career could just change his manner of pitching mid-season and be effective and consistent. My hope is that the mechanical and mental adjustments that led to those few good games will be reviewed on video by Milton and the pitching staff this offseason, and he will seek to implement what was effective when he reports in just a few weeks. It probably won't work, but those few games give me some hope that he can make effective adjustments if he can go back and identify what worked for him and what did not.

I remember that too. Good too bring that up...perhaps Ruhle working with him and the work in the offseason will produce some better results...I certainly don't think it would produce worse.

Cooper
01-06-2006, 02:17 PM
The other thing that drives me crazy bout Milton is his inability to see anything wrong with what he's doing. When he's interviewed he reports he just needs to keep doing what he's doing and things will even out. Now i know that's part of baseball cliche 101, but what bothers me is the way he says it with conviction as if it's silly for him to change his approach or learn a new pitch. I really believe he thinks he's just been unlucky.

BoydsOfSummer
01-07-2006, 02:15 AM
Milton needs to work on inducing more pop-ups.

Redsland
01-07-2006, 04:36 PM
He needs to work on washing Jeff Kent's truck. ;)